Question – In the light of persistence of various types of violence against women in India, discuss the ways in which this issue can be effectively addressed. – 17 November 2021
Violence against women is widespread in India, and women of all ages and social classes, regions and religions suffer from it. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s ‘Crime in India- 2019’ report, the crime rate against women has increased by 7.3% in the year 2019, with an average of 87 rape cases being reported every day in the country.
Violence has no place in a civilized society. But the number of domestic violence cases every year underscores the worrying situation. People are being tortured behind closed doors of homes in our country. This work is also happening in rural areas, towns, cities and metros. Domestic violence is becoming a legacy from generation to generation across all social classes, genders, races and age groups.
Various forms of violence against women are physical, sexual or psychological including:
- Violence faced in the family including assault; sexual abuse of the girl child in the home; dowry-related violence; marital rape; female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence; and violence related to exploitation.
- violence within the general community, including rape; sexual abuse; Sexual harassment and threats at workplace, educational institutions and other places; trafficking of women; and forced prostitution.
- Physical, sexual and psychological violence for which the State is responsible or neglected by the State, wherever it may be.
In all societies, poverty, discrimination, ignorance and social unrest serve as a common ground to generate violence against women. Traditional attitudes and cultural beliefs, power relations, economic power imbalances, the mask of women, pornography and the idea of masculinity for male domination help perpetuate this violence.
Ways to address the issue of violence against women include:
- Policy measures aimed at effective implementation with zero-tolerance approach in cases of violence against women, appropriate resources and sexual harassment.
- Attitude change in society through Behavior Change Communication (BCC). There is a need to change the societal norms that often “blame the victim” rather than the perpetrator of violence against women.
- Educating men and boys by raising awareness of violence against women at an early age and changing their attitudes about women’s rights.
- Economic empowerment of women should be initiated with a view to replace discriminatory and restrictive gender norms.
To address this, the Government has enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013; The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (also known as the Nirbhaya Act) was brought and the Juvenile Justice Act has been amended in the year 2015. However, effectively addressing this issue requires organized cooperation and action between government and non-governmental actors, including teachers, health care officials, local communities and mass communication.
If we really want to make an “India free from violence against women”, the time has come for us as a nation to collectively discuss this topic. A good approach might be to launch a nationwide, sustainable and prosperous social campaign.